There’s no right or wrong way to craft a skincare routine. There are no do’s and don’ts for each decade, per se, but skincare is something that is entirely individual and the products you use will always depend on your individual skin type, your genetic make-up, life-style choices and environmental influences that can contribute to skin conditions and sensitivities. Ultimately, there are several factors which determine the type of skincare routine you should follow.
What Happens To Our Skin As We Age?
As we all know, our skin ages over time. As we get older, our skin’s natural resources deplete and its functions start to slow down. Elastin is the first to leave the party and stops being produced as early our twenties. Collagen and elastin are the two main proteins in our skin that form a sort of scaffolding that keeps it plump and firm. Once those fibres stop being produced, whether it’s due to sun damage or general ageing, our skin doesn’t have the natural resources to build them again.
Once you hit your mid-thirties, collagen production starts to slow down too. When you’re in your fifties, muscle contouring in the face and body begins to decrease as gravity starts to do more harm than good! We tend to notice these things much more as we age, even if they weren’t previously an issue. That’s because younger skin is able to deal with most of the things that get thrown its way. The signs of ageing stare back at us in the mirror, after years of enduring cumulative damage.
But it’s never too late to start crafting a skincare routine or even switch up your existing one. Investing in professional skincare products is an investment and one that can reap great rewards to the committed!
Essential Skincare For Everyone
The first thing you should consider is the right cleanser for your skin type. People with dry skin, for instance, will require a gentle cleanser that doesn’t disrupt their skin. I never recommend that anyone use a foaming cleanser. These products work like a detergent on the skin and, with prolonged use, they will destroy the skin’s natural barrier function. We should all be mindful of our skin’s natural pH. It is around 4.5-5.5, so choosing a cleanser that is around pH 5 won’t alter that too much or make your skin dry and irritated.
You should always double cleanse in the evening, especially if you’ve been wearing make-up. I use a very gentle milk cleanser, followed by an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) cleanser that’s very gentle but slightly exfoliating.
Introducing exfoliants into your skincare routine becomes increasingly important as you age. Another one of the processes that starts to slow down as we age is the rate at which the skin sheds and regenerates. With that in mind, chemical exfoliants are much more effective and less abrasive than physical scrubs and are always recommended over anything else. Being familiar with your skin and what it needs is the easiest way to ascertain how much exfoliation it needs.
The Importance Of SPF
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or how old you are, SPF is something we should all be using! A physical, mineral SPF is much more effective than a chemical sunscreen. There is a lot of debate over whether or not chemical sunscreens should be used at all. They work by absorbing the sun’s rays and there is a concern that the chemicals used in these products can also be absorbed by the skin. Choosing a mineral sunscreen is the safer choice. Any SPF product you use should always be at least factor 30 to provide you with the best protection from UVA and UVB rays.
When it comes to using a SPF moisturiser or a separate SPF product – separate SPF is the way to go! A moisturiser is meant to give something back to your skin, depending on what you’re using. It could be a particularly hydrating product or it might balance your skin – whatever it contains, its purpose is to be absorbed by your skin. This is not the case with sunscreen. Sunscreen should not be entering your skin and needs to sit on the skin’s surface to be most effective. If you have a moisturiser with SPF mixed into it – you’re going to be losing money somewhere!
If you have oily skin and you don’t feel as though you need a moisturiser and an SPF, you can skip the moisturiser. Have a look around, and you’ll be able to find SPFs that have antioxidants in them or contain other hydrating elements without actually being moisturisers.
Don’t Forget About Vitamins
Vitamins are absolute hero ingredients that act like anti-oxidants and prevent free radical damage! They are really great actives to add to your routine. Vitamin C is naturally a very unstable molecule that can be ingested orally or used topically. As our skin is a peripheral organ, as opposed to a life-sustaining one, any vitamins we ingest orally will always get around to our skin last, making them less effective as our other organs tend to see the benefits first. Topical application of vitamin C works best, it is roughly 20x more effective compared to oral vitamins.
As it is an unstable molecule, when vitamin C is exposed to oxygen and light, it’s going to oxidise. Keeping it out of direct sunlight and making sure it is properly closed is the best thing you can do to make your vitamin C product last longer. To get the most for your skin, any vitamin C products you buy need to contain 8%-20% of the vitamin itself, otherwise, you won’t necessarily see the best results.
If you’re using vitamin C already, or considering it, keep vitamin E in mind too. These two work really well together. Vitamin E acts as a stabilser, as well as a hydrating vitamin in its own right!
Vitamin A is the best known Vitamin for anti-ageing, skin re-balancing and renewal benefits. Be careful with how you introduce this into your routine. The best way is to start with an encapsulated gentle version and slowly build up use. Remember to wear SPF while using vitamin A.
What I Recommend
If you’re looking to establish a new skincare routine or switch up your products, I recommend this cleanser by NeoGenesis. It won’t interfere with your skin’s natural pH balance but it will still cleanse the skin without drying it out. It will also reduce the appearance of an uneven skin tone, leaving your skin fresh, clean and radiant!
Another brand that I absolutely love is AlumierMD. Their Clear Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 42 is a lightweight, non-comedogenic 100% physical broad-spectrum facial sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.